An Istanbul appeals court’s decision to uphold an earlier ruling to jail opposition daily Cumhuriyet journalists and executives is testimony to the problems of Turkey’s judiciary, main opposition Republican People’s Party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said.
“Musa Kart is a world-renowned caricaturist. What will you achieve by putting intellectuals behind bars?” said Kılıçdaroğlu.
The court upheld the earlier decision to hand down five years of imprisonment to daily Cumhuriyet’s journalists on charges of “aiding terrorist organizations.”
The party leader also stressed that such decisions were “damaging Turkey’s reputation.”
“How can we say that this ruling is in accordance with rights and remedies?” Kılıçdaroğluadded.
“Journalists, especially a lot of people that are still waiting for indictments, despite being in jail for months, say that ‘democracy is bleeding’ in Turkey,” the CHP’s leader said, noting that a similar, unfair practice was seen in CHP party assembly member Eren Erdem’s case.
“The greatest harm to the justice system is its members,” he stated.
A court last year sentenced 14 staff of Cumhuriyet to jail on charges of terrorism and supporting FETÖ leader, who is widely believed to have masterminded the coup attempt in July 2016. All the accused denied the charges against them.
Cumhuriyet said on Feb. 19 that an appeals court had ruled the original trial was lawful and approved the convictions against its employees. Journalists Hakan Kara and Güray Öz, cartoonist Musa Kart, lawyer Mustafa Kemal Güngör, board member Önder Çelik, and accountant Emre İper will return to prison to complete their sentences, Cumhuriyet said. Under Turkish law, sentences under five years cannot be appealed further.
Editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, prominent journalists Ahmet Şık, Hikmet Çetinkaya, Orhan Erinç, Akın Atalay and Aydın Engin, all jailed for more than five years, will have to return to prison pending their appeal to a higher court, the paper added. Journalist Kadri Gürsel and lawyer Bülent Utku will not go back to prison due to time already served.